For all of Singapore’s dirt-cheap delicious hawker food and street stalls, there is almost an equal representation of high-end, more expensive, fAnCyYy foods in the city. There are 216 Michelin starred restaurants in Singapore (For comparison, there are 554 in NYC). That’s a lot!
Have I mentioned the bike share programs here yet? Bike shares in SG were set up last year. There are three main companies – OFO Bike, Mobike, and oBike. The programs are similar to NYC’s CitiBike but, in my opinion, the set up is much more user friendly here. Once you download the apps on your phone, the home pages will show you where the closest bikes are located. The bikes are locked and you use your phone to scan the barcode on the bike to unlock it. There are no bike lanes in the city. You bike on the sidewalk which, while perhaps annoying as a pedestrian, is pretty ideal as a rider trying to not get hit by a car. Once you’re finished with the bike, you hit the kickstand down and lock up, leaving it wherever you’d like. They have “designated parking spaces” for the bikes but they are not a requirement for returning the bike. SO – you can take your bike to the store and just leave it in the grass outside without worrying about where the closest docking station is. We paid SGD $1.50 for 60 days of unlimited bike usage. Pretty nice deal!!!!
We have been using the bikes pretty often. They are a fun way to get around the city and are faster than walking through the heat. Plus the breeze is nice 🙂 While biking around Holland Road, we stumbled upon Dempsey Hill. We had gotten hungry so TT looked at his Google Map to see if there were any starred restaurants around. We found one and headed there, dismounted from our bikes in our sweaty workout gear with hat hair and sunburned noses, and walked straight into Candlenut – the world’s first Michelin starred Peranakan restaurant.
To say we were underdressed would be a hilarious understatement but alas, how could we have known?! WE WERE JUST HUNGRY and as we had already made it all the way to the top of Dempsey Hill, we decided to sit and have a fancy lunch because we. are. worth it.
Peranakan, we learned, refers to a people descendants of early Chinese immigrants who settled in Penang, Malaka, Singapore, and Indonesia during the 15th-17th centuries. After inter-marrying with local Malays, Peranakan cuisine has come to represent a fusion of Chinese, Malay, and other local influences. Candlenut states they serve up “refined Peranakan cuisine that preserves the essence and complexities of traditional food, with astute twists that lift the often rich dishes to a different level.” We were excited to try some new things!
The restaurant itself is lovely. It is part of a larger building called COMO Dempsey which houses a few upscale restaurants and some fancy marketplaces – a small respite from the heat and bustling of Singapore.
While the building is open concept, Candlenut separates itself nicely with small tables laid out under a gorgeous array of paper lanterns.
Also, these floors!!!!!
Candlenut offers a 10-course omakase tasting menu for $88/person but we opted to pick and choose a few dishes from the a la carte menu.
Starting with Fish Crackers with a dipping sauce for the table.
Charcoal Grilled Snake River Farm Kurobuta Pork Neck Satay, Kicap Manis Glaze.
I think satay would be pretty difficult to mess up. This was smoky and charred and delicious. The chicken was plump and tender. Too bad we couldn’t have satay-ed for more! (lawlz)
Homemade Kueh Pie Tee Shell, Braised Local Turnip, Pork Belly, Prawns
I didn’t like this. I thought it was quite bland and very turnip-y. I was not a fan but the presentation was nice and interesting!
Buah Keluak of Braised Local Chicken, Peranakan Signature Black Nut Sambal
The chicken was so tender. It fell off the bone as soon as you touched your fork to it. The black nut sambal was not the spicy curry we were expecting/hoping for when we ordered it, but we should have asked about the spiciness levels. It had a deep nutty flavor.
Wild Caught Baby Squid, Squid Ink, Tamarind, Fried Shallots, Chillis
The baby squid was really super. The tamarind flavor was strong and tangy and the chillis gave the dish some heat. It was such an interesting flavor combination made even more interesting by the tiny squids covered in the sauce. Usually you eat pieces of squid, not a whole squid in one bite.
The baby squid was definitely the star of the show, followed closely by the satay. The chicken came in third place and the Keuh Pie Tee Shell was a definite kaboose. If we could do it again, we probably would have been more careful to not opt for two black sauce dishes. Some colors would have been nice to enjoy on our plates!!!
Candlenut was good but probably not good enough for us to return. It’d be nice to impress a date or to maybe take your mom but alas, neither of us is having dates with other people and neither of our moms has plans to visit just yet.
Onto the next!